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All wrapped up yet?

Posted by: Joyce Matthews   |   No Comments   |  Posted on: Dec 09, 2012

It’s that time of year again when the streets are thronging with shoppers. You know what it’s like – people everywhere, pushing and
shoving, with a determination to get their Christmas shopping done.

And have you come across the type of shopper who just stops suddenly in front of you? Or backs into you as they look at the shelves? Or bumps into you with all their bags as they try to make a U-turn in one of the aisles?

As someone who has played sport all my life, I often wonder
how some people can be so unaware of who is around them – do they have no peripheral vision? Do they not sense that there is someone standing next to them? Are they so wrapped up in themselves and what they are doing that they are unaware of people around them?

And that got me thinking about how we use our senses to ‘listen’ and ‘see’ and ‘feel’ others. Everybody talks about verbal or non-verbal communication, but do you ever hear anyone talk about ‘peripheral’ communication? How do we use our senses to receive others communication cues?

Listening is another one. I heard a story the other day from a colleague who told me that she ‘seeds’ her conversation with cues for questions to see if the person she is talking to picks up on it with their ‘peripheral listening’. She intersperses her conversation with the phrase ‘that’s the second……. most interesting thing/most awkward moment/ best
present/ worst holiday, I’ve ever heard/experienced/had.

That simple phrase ‘the second’ would make me curious – what’s the first? But as she explained to me, very few people ask her that question, they just continue talking, usually about themselves.

And feeling – how often do you really take time to acknowledge what other people are feeling? The girl at the check out in Asda, who looks uncommunicative and surly, try out your peripheral feeling skills with her.  What could she really be feeling – bored, stressed, unloved? Would it hurt you to acknowledge her presence and even share a smile or a kind word with her?

And it made we wonder even more – the people that bump into you and seem to have no peripheral vision, do they have no peripheral listening or feeling skills as well. Are all these linked or can you be good at one and not others? Can people be so wrapped up in themselves that they are unaware of others? You can probably think of a few people like that.

And actually is it about ‘peripheral’ communication skills or is it about ‘receiving’ communication from others?

Although its coming up to Christmas and you have a lot to do, maybe this is the best time of year to be thinking about this.

You’d probably class yourself as a pretty good communicator, but communication is a bit like Christmas – it’s not always about the giving, it’s just as much about the receiving.

So what about you? Are you all wrapped up in yourself?

As John Ruskin said, “When a man is wrapped up in himself, he makes a pretty small package.”

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